Action & Adventure in the Northeast

Episode 3: Miller-Quinn Air Tragedy with John Morton

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On the afternoon of February 21, 1959, a single engine Piper Comanche crashed in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire. On board were two Dartmouth Medical School physicians, Drs. Ralph Miller and Robert Quinn. They both survived the crash and struggled to survive for four days before succumbing to the harsh New Hampshire winter. Although they never made it out of the wilderness alive, their legacies live on even to this day, especially in the Dartmouth medical and aviation communities. My guest today is John Morton, of Morton Trails, and today he tells the story of the Miller-Quinn Air Tragedy. John builds trails for a living, but has also served as the Dartmouth XC Ski coach, and has participated in seven Olympic games as either a biathlon athlete, coach, or trails consultant. He is also an accomplished writer and novelist, and wrote an article for Dartmouth Medicine magazine entitled Unforgiving Forests that profiled the crash of the two physicians.

About halfway through the episode (36:30) we shift gears and talk about how John designs and builds trails for both recreational and competitive venues. And as a bonus topic, John also describes how he used his experience as an athlete and a Vietnam veteran to take part in an event that aided Soviet Afghan War veterans with PTSD issues (50:53). John participated in this event with General Hal Moore, who many of you may remember being portrayed by Mel Gibson in the film, We Were Soldiers.

John can be found online at

all photos courtesy of Dartmouth College Library

Recommended reading to accompany this episode:

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